- “I’ll miss you.”
- “I’ll remember you.”
- Leta bid farewell to her level 3 agent, who had grown to love her capabilities to quickly and efficiently deal with anything thrown at her.
- Their time together had been fun, and profitable for them both. Leta’s repeated successes, delivering results well ahead of time for the rapid performance bonuses, had boosted the agent's reputation among the task delegation program, helping bolster her credentials when she contended for a level 4 agent slot.
- But Leta had no time to wait. She was being passed up the line on special recommendation to an already established level 4 agent, who was in need of someone to take care of a particularly important mission for her.
- Leta waited for her ship to perform final systems checks while its curator AI cleared away the last customs protocols and got the green light to undock. She was leaving nothing in the station, having ignored the wrecks of the relatively small-time outlaws she had encounters on various of her recent tasks. They would have nothing of interest to her. She was independently wealthy thanks to the wormhole exploration co-op she was part of, which demolished the sentient defenders of an unknown, but clearly ancient civilisation, and sifted through the gutted wreckage for usable parts and information.
- Leta could never shake the feeling that they were desecrating something that had much more worth than they gave it credit for, that the advanced retro-engineered systems in the new line of cruisers was a crude shadow of the sleeper’s true potential, should they ever completely wake up.
- Leta was due to get one of those ships for herself soon, and despite her misgivings about their provenance, she knew their systems were far superior to anything the known universe could produce, barring the Jovians, of course.
- Still, her trusty ship was built by the Carthum Conglomerate, and they sure knew how to make armour that could weather the toughest storms. She couldn’t count the number of scrapes the beautiful behemoth had pulled through in the past, or the sheer number of gigaJoules the thick armour had absorbed in its time.
- Such thoughts kept her captivated as she idly warped from gate to gate, the light gleaming off her beast changing every few minutes as she whipped past 14 different suns, and got wrenched across 14 different star systems.
- Leta preferred to play with the sound processors pumping the myriad noises of her ship and its surrounds pumping directly into her main auditory perception. The whine and groan as a microwarp drive spooled up and span down again reminded her that her ship was alive, that she was a part of it, sharing a bond like that of some primitive cultures held with their steeds, but more intimate than anyone could have imagined.
- The muffled crump as a jump gate opened a tunnel to the other end, and the thunder as she was hurled along it tickled her mind whenever she stopped to appreciate it.
- With such pleasures to keep her occupied, she arrived in her new agent’s home system of Apanake before she got bored, and was actively seeking this new contact out before her ship had even stopped moving into its berth.
- “Mekamireki Fidas? It’s Leta. Leta LIlitu. You wanted to talk to me?”
- She did indeed. The Blood raiders had attacked a major convoy, killing a horrifying number of members of the Sisters of Eve. They had done all they could to rescue the wounded and recover the dead, but it had been a thorough job. The Sisters wanted vengeance, and Leta had apparently been chose to administer it.
- This attack had been perpetrated by Faramon Mundan, a bloodthirsty bastard in charge of a particularly violent sect of the Blood Raider's insane religious cult. He was holed up in a Keseya, surrounded by a prodigious swarm of his mad followers, impregnable to anything the pushover Sisters of Eve could throw at them.
- At least that was the theory.
- Leta checked her fitting as she reoriented herself from the final jump. She’d remembered to swap out her armour hardeners for the task at hand before she undocked, which was just as well. Her personal assistant programs informed her cheerfully that there were no stations in system. Oh well. Hopefully she wouldn’t need to do any serious repairs anyway.
- Time to see if these fellas were as tough as they thought they were.
- Leta worked slowly and methodically, screaming up close to the bigger ships around, which got her into range to use her NOS and siphon energy from their capacitor’s reserves. She used her own power supply to run her repper. She preferred to route the stolen energy straight into her guns, smiling perversely as the blood raider’s own systems fed the weapons of their demise. Unfortunately, this latest wave of reinforcements brought some bitter irony of their own, unleashing nasty energy neutralisers that shorted out huge chunks of her spare power reserve. Her capacitors were military grade, hardened against damage from such cap warfare, but the energy was lost all the same, and the additional load on her thermal dumps caused her to crinkle her forehead. The problem was, while her NOS could support her tank for now, her tank wasn’t actually capable of fixing the damage indefinitely. Amarr plates were thick, and incredibly resilient, but nowhere near the advances the Gallente had with in their highly efficient repair systems. Leta’s tactic usually involved killing all the things before they got through her armour, then smoothing out the rumples before engaging the next group of hostiles. With her guns now only working in dribs and drabs, she could only hope that she managed to whittle down the incoming in time for her repper to beat the numbers.
- As her armour dipped lower and lower, and the bloodthirsty swarm closed in around her, Leta closed her eyes and recalled her drones.
- Sometimes, you just have to swallow your pride and warp the hell out.
- Exiting warp around the jump gate to Sigga, Leta was instantly bombarded with active sensors and data pings from the local space transmission channels. There were multiple ships orbiting the gate. They held the curiously shaped, but still menacing forms of CONCORD's DED starships.
- The space police, as some capsuleers laughingly referred to them.
- These guys were a mixed bag. They were, on the whole, good; their mandate was the protection of the Empires from Bad Guys (tm), which they occasionally took to include the empires themselves, and especially the callous behaviour of some of the more unruly of capsuleers.
- Leta accepted a comm line request from the massive DED battleship that was sliding past not 5 kilometers off her bow. "State your business here. We have just suppressed a threat in this area and your arrival is suspicious."
- Several wrecks littered the area, some chunks still glowing. Analysis of the expanding debris clouds suggested the ‘suppression’ had taken place about 3 minutes ago. Hopefully some asshole had recently attempted some of that ganking shenanigans that was so often talked about, instead of some poor newbie just making the wrong move. Interstellar legalese could be so hard when you were just finding your feet.
- She sent them her pilot's licence info, confirming it was up to date, and opened an audiovisual channel back "I'm in system on official business for the Servant Sisters of Eve. I just needed a breather for a bit."
- The pause was pregnant as the ship's sensors played over her ship's freshly battered hide. Thermo dumps were still glowing as they exhausted the last of the violent energies that the hull had been subjected to just 30 seconds before, and the armour plates were looking decidedly thin in areas. Brief scintillations of green light betrayed her armour repair systems shunting fresh armour into place from backup stores and scraping dead armour back to be preprocessed, its intricately complex energy spreading design completely burned out and shattered.
- "I see." said the officer."Business. Do you require any assistance?" he offered. Leta wasn't sure if he was joking or not.
- "The Servant Sisters of Eve can take care of themselves, thank you." Leta primly replied. There would be hell to pay if SoE ever heard she'd gotten CONCORD officials in to do her dirty work, even something as important as this revenge, or justice, or whatever you wanted to call it, against the utter pigs that had massacred their convoy.
- "Very well. If anything gets out of hand, just send us a ping, we will be in system for the next hour." Leta could tell the officer was still eyeing the slightly tarnished majesty of her heavily modified Absolution-class field command ship.
- She signed off, with the feeling that the officer had been genuinely worried about her, and noted his contact ID down as one of the good ones, insofar as any DED officer could be described as 'good'.
- There was a nasty undertone to the DED's dealings with capsuleers. They did not care for such things as 'fair trials', preferring to enact justice on the spot. They operated throughout the four empires, and their mechanism for dealing with various byzantine legal systems and corrupt power structures was to enact the law by ‘fait accompli’ in most cases involving capsuleers. They also had learned early that any incarcerated capsuleers would simply switch off, killing their clone, to be reactivated at one of the various cloning facilities operating throughout the galaxy.
- 'Space Police' they may be, but there was a very specific mandate that the DED, and CONCORD in general, had never commented on in public which betrayed a very different purpose.
- The rise of capsuleers to prominence, and particularly to power, had made the empires very nervous indeed. They knew that, while not bound by any one code or philosophy, all capsuleers had a very different worldview than that of normal mortal humans. It was enough to separate them from even their original culture, and any family ties soon withered and died in the onslaught of time. Capsuleers were a lonely bunch, and only really related to other capsuleers. In this way they formed a de facto political entity of their own, and one that was growing in power faster than any of the original players had ever feared.
- CONCORD had been attempting to control this new type of human for some time now, at the behest of the majority of mortal stakeholders in the four empires. Fitting, Leta felt, that the symbol of peace and co-operation between the empires should be twisted into an agent of oppression.
- Paranoia had ramped up the investments the empires had made into the DED's naval might, with secret labs throughout the empire forging newer and better technologies for their ships, making them stronger, and more deadly.
- These new ships were designed to be able to counter anything the capsuleers could fly around ‘highsec’, a large zone encompassing much of the empire’s regions, that CONCORD had determined they could reasonably expect to protect with retributive force.
- CONCORD were given the task of administrating "pilot's licenses", for pod pilots everywhere, who were denied any kind of pod technology if they weren't fully paid up. CONCORD rarely had any problems here, which was lucky for them as rooting out all the last locations of black market clone facilities was a troublesome task, and very difficult for them to negotiate from the quite powerful space stations that provided the services. That was why they allowed capsuleers some leeway, once they had reanimated from the results of their latest transgressions. They registered a security status loss, effectively administered a slap on the wrist. Once their status hit zero, capsuleers had to resort to more underground or politically well entrenched medical facilities. At first, mysteriously alive capsuleers with negative security status had caused quite the conundrum for CONCORD, and the DED, They introduced the concept of negative security, which capsuleers could redeem themselves from by cleaning up some of the scum that inevitably hung around the edges of civilised society. Still, for an immortal entity to be threatened with extinction was scary enough that few pod pilots truly outlawed themselves forever to the dodgy med facilities on the fringes of space. Even with the new capsuler nations that had sprung up around the outer skirt of interconnected systems in the galaxy, and even in systems that had no jumpgate at all, the Empires and their stability still represented the major economic power in the galaxy, and even many capsuleers still hauled their goods and toys to and from the big trade hubs.
- Leta mentally sighed. the armour repairer was slowly getting through the task. She idly clicked on one of the smaller DED vessels, piloted by a Captain and his crew, as it soared around the stargate in a long arc. She had to admit, those lines were sexy. Too bad she would never fly one. One of the more flagrant actions of the DED's superpowered machines had been the complete lack of concessions to pods. Retrofitting was only theoretically possible, it would take a major technological breakthrough for it to ever happen. It was, they claimed, due to a requirement for the highly advanced interdiction systems CONCORD had installed, some say with the aid of jovian tech, which enabled them to lock down capsuleer piloted vessels with impunity once they arrived on grid.
- The drawback was that their hyper-advanced spaceboats were operated by the comically old fashioned system of a full crew, with a little fat man in the middle of the bridge and all his flunkies repeating his words in steadily louder and more abbreviated ripples of information, travelling to the gunners and scanner operators at the speed of yell. Not terribly efficient at all, and nowhere near as comfortable for them as for Leta's own crew, who were basically glorified and highly pampered maintenance staff. All flows of data and instructions travelled solely between her and the ship, via the pod. To think of the possibilities if she could get her hands a CONCORD ship! To feel the solid weight of their armour cladding her in. To wield the power of their supercharged reactors, energy bursting out of her as she swung the entire edifice around, using the warp drive's grip on the subspace skein to manifest torque out of nothing.
- Too bad that was the ships she would one day have to face off against, if things progressed as some of her immortal brethren and sistren were saying they might.
- Everyone knew the DED were standing over capsuleers, trying to hold them in check before they overwhelmed the galaxy. Very strict recruitment procedures supposedly kept them incorruptible, but Leta suspected it had to do with the high concentration of 'breeder' types in there. Breeders were racist little buggers, sneering at capsuleers and thinking of them as super freaks who would eventually only be a footnote in the history of humanity.
- They embraced their mortality, claiming that the old should always step aside when their time was done, and allow the young to inherit the world and bring forth fresh ideas. According to them, capsuleers were stagnant minds stuck in the ideology of their formative years, unable to achieve true societal change.
- Breeders tended to have large and loving families, which CONCORD paychecks certainly helped with, and they truly believed that family, genetics and society should be immortal, and individual consciousnesses must die out to allow for society to adapt to changing circumstances.
- While she admitted that they had a point about ideological stagnation, Leta couldn't help but notice that the true power brokers tended to be ancient themselves, through a surprising variety of longevity treatments or cybernetic enhancements, and forced short term policies on their minions that would only really benefit themselves. From the heady heights of an immortal view, Leta felt that these poor blinkered fools were doomed to die out completely.
- Leta was musing contentedly as her camera drones kept pace with the DED Captain, when the jumpgate in the background flashed as it received a new arrival from Avyuh.
- Soon enough the new face showed itself. An Imperial navy Slicer, containing a single Customs officer, presumably here on special rapid dispatch to investigate the recently concluded "business" of the DED themselves, interrogating them on their actions and attempting to assert jurisdiction, if the intense comms traffic between the two slicer and the CONCORD battleship was anything to go by. The little frigate was fast and sleek, incredibly alluring to Leta as she watched it zoom about, but she knew that it stood no chance against even the smallest DED ship here, and meanwhile the gargantuan lines of the DED battleship ground along its orbit path with all the stately inertia of an asteroid.
- Presently the gate flashed again, twice, in quick succession, and Leta could tell from experience that these were big, whatever they were. She experienced a twinge of unease, with her repair systems still replenishing the last of her armour reserves, but she reminded herself the DED were right next to her, and for all the problems she foresaw in their relationship, she was still legally their charge to protect, and two battleships would have to be very committed to cause her harm before they were 'brought to justice'.
- Sure enough, two massive chunks of human engineering faded into reality. A couple of Amarr customs craft, part of the Imperial Navy to be precise, which began also circling the scene and jockeying for position with the DED vessels.They were not quite openly seeking tactical advantage, but attempting to assert their rules of spacelane etiquette over the CONCORD representatives, who were making various adjustments to their disposition to account for the new balance of power.
- The slicer filled them in with short intense bursts of data, and the Amarr vessels proceeded to ramp up the aggression of their maneuverings, and began grilling the DED about their actions. This close to the border with the CONCORD owned systems, the local Amarrian authorities were keen to see their authority recognised. The DED fleet commander was in for a trying time, as his onboard lawyer protocols began their contest with that of the Amarr battleships. The guns of the DED battleshp and the pair of Armageddons lay silent on their flanks, full of potential. Both sides knew the Amarr were easily outmatched here, and they were taking precautions not to sound plaintive as they stressed the need for Imperial Navy presence at all Summary Executions enacted by the DED.
- Chuckling quietly to herself, Leta hailed the DED officer back.
- "Looks like you'll be stuck here for a while."
- He said nothing, just grunted morosely.
- "Well my standings with these jokers is pretty good, if you want me to wade in."
- "We will justify our actions here by ourselves, thank you" the officer replied somewhat stiffly.
- "Well… all the best then."
- "And to you."
- Leta signed off and initiated warp. Definitely one of the good ones. Capsuleers would need to cultivate more of those within CONCORD somehow if they ever wanted to avoid some nasty times in the future, though the few power blocs among the capsuleers that were capable of such nefarious acts were keeping very hush hush about whether they were already pursuing such avenues.
- Leta's mind wandered back to the subject of the Sisters' mission, and the significance of them choosing her to be their agent of revenge. She was gaining seniority among their circles, and various members had started making offers of exclusive tech and gear to her in the hopes of currying favour and rising in their own small way on her coat tails up the ranks. But Leta had her eye set on something else, very specific. She had not heard many rumours before the big announcement, but when the Servant Sisters of Eve unveiled their new capsuleer-optimised covert ops ships, the world of eve had exploded with wild discussions about the implications of this small charitable organisation funding one of the best innovations in starship design in recent years.
- Ostensibly, these ships were supposed to be only for those capsuleers who fitted in with the Sisters' core ideals, of preserving life and preventing hardship and whatever, but many detractors were quick to see the ships as an attempt at a power grab, and a declaration of allegiance to capsuleers.
- Despite the best efforts of CONCORD and the empires, the Servant Sisters of Eve could see which way the winds were blowing, and knew that in a matter of centuries, a few millennia at the outmost, capsuleers would rule the roost and all former glories would either join them or bow to their utter mastery of space and trade.
- The ships were an offering, designed to get capsuleers onside with them, and give the Sisters some bargaining chips when it came to the table of galactic politics.
- That was why they were so keen for Leta to punish the Blood Raiders. They needed to send a message, that they weren't a helpless aid movement any more. They had teeth, they would hit back as hard as they got, so don't try anything on them. And they didn't need no CONCORD to clean up their messes for them, they could do it themselves.
- As Leta landed on grid, armour hardeners running and drones raring to go, she looked out at the angry red crosses converging on her, strobing her with targeting radars and racing each other to their deaths. These silly buggers had poked a kitten, only to find a tiger. She would write the Sisters' new message across the stars with their mangled wrecks.
An Awkward Moment on a Gate.
leta_lilitu Nov 1st, 2013 53 Never
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